5G is almost here, and it’s going to have a massive impact on almost every facet of how we use technology.
With the increasing demand on the online world it offers faster speeds and lower latency theoretically opening up huge new frontiers in everything from smartphones to self-driving cars.
However, the future of mobile networks isn’t here yet.
And with something as complex as 5G, dozens of companies, carriers, and device manufacturers all need to work together for this kind of rollout to happen. Here’s where everything stands right now, though:
We’re still in the early days of 5G, and news will accelerate as we get closer to networks rolling out and hardware releasing that support it. We’ll continue to update this post will all the new details, so check back often.
What is 5G?
On a basic level, 5G is the fifth generation of cellular networking. It’s what comes after our current 4G / LTE networks, much in the same way that LTE was a radical shift forward from 3G.
Think of how much the way we used and interacted with our phones shifted when 3G data was first introduced, or how things changed again when high-speed LTE data came around. That’s the kind of change we’re looking at with 5G.
But on a more technical level, “5G” is an agreed upon set of standards defined by the International Telecommunication Union (the ITU) and the 3GPP, who work together with hardware companies and carriers to define what exactly a 5G network actually is.
And over the past few months, we’ve actually reached two general definitions for those: the non-standalone 5G New Radio network, which (as the name implies) is built off of existing LTE networks and hardware, and standalone 5G NR networks, which allows for new deployments of 5G in places that didn’t necessarily have that existing infrastructure.
The non-standalone standard was finished in December 2017, while the standalone standard was finalized in June 2018. Having extra time to work on it and being built on existing infrastructure means that when we do see the first real 5G networks start to roll out in 2019, they’ll likely be based on that first.
Different carriers so far who have plans to offer it to market includes AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint.